Islands have been considered as the best natural laboratories for the study of plant and animal evolution. They are highly simplified, unique worlds, which harbour a rich biota including a high percentage of endemic species. Their evolutionary uniqueness and isolation makes island dwellers prone to extinction in a scenario of climatic change and biodiversity crisis. Insular taxa form simplified communities, where ecological relationships and evolutionary processes can be studied more easily than on the continent. The Balearic Islands, as all islands in general, are particularly vulnerable to global change and human perturbations. Because of their reduced territory, their rich biodiversity (including ca. 555 animal and 130 plant endemic taxa) is threatened by loss of habitats and introduction of allien species. A research line focused on biodiversity and conservation issues is currently highly demanded by the Balearic society, one of the most aware in Spain at this respect. The team joint at IMEDEA under this research line covers a broad expertise in taxonomic, biogeographic, evolutionary and ecological issues of insular biotas. The methodological approach is multidisciplinary, combining morphological, distributional, populational and various kinds of molecular data to improve our understanding and promote the conservation of insular unique biotas.
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